Duesenberg SJ La Grande Dual-Cowl Phaeton 1935
„I will build the world’s best automobile,“ declared Errett Lobban Cord, „a car with superlative acceleration, speed and hill- climbing ability, pleasant to drive and safe, with maximum reliability and exceptionally long life, secured by the finest material and workmanship.“ He made good his promise at the December 1928 New York Automobile Salon, when he unveiled the 6.9-litre straight-eight Model J Duesenberg, a car that was „as beautiful as it is powerful… with the acceleration and speed of a racing car and the size and comfort of an outstanding passenger car.“
The clientele for the Model J was as glittering as the car itself: film stars Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, James Cagney, Greta Garbo, Joe E. Brown, Richard Arlen, Mae West, Lupe Velez, Marion Davies and Dolores del Rio all drove Duesenbergs, as did Cedric Gibbons, Hollywood’s leading art director and the man who designed the „Oscar“ statuette awarded to so many of those stars of the 1930s.
The model J was a car for real-life kings and queens, too. Among the crowned heads to be seen in Duesenbergs were King Alfonso of Spain, Queen Marie of Yugoslavia, Prince Serge M’Divani, the Maharajah Holkar of Indore and Prince Nicholas of Romania, who raced one of his Duesenbergs – with great enthusiasm and small success – at Le Mans
To make the mighty Duesenberg mightier yet, in 1932 the company introduced a supercharged version, the „SJ“. It could run at walking pace in top gear, yet would accelerate from a standstill to 100 mph (160 km/h) in 20 seconds. Its centrifugal supercharger rotated at six times engine speed and at 4 rpm, the tips of the rotor blades were travelling at a supersonic 857 mph (1380 km/h)! Just 36 SJ Duesenbergs were built.
This car was originally owned by air ace Reginald Sinclaire, of Larkspur, California and had special factory speed equipment installed. In 1937 the car was sent to the exclusive coachworks of Rollston of New York and fitted with the rare option of a fixed vee-windshield.